Hunting for backdoors in counterfeit Cisco devices

Buying shady hardware…It’s a bit like torrenting a film, you never know what you’re actually going to get…:

[…] F-Secure Consulting’s Hardware Security team investigated two different counterfeit versions of Cisco Catalyst 2960-X series switches. The counterfeits were discovered by an IT company after a software update stopped them from working, which is a common reaction of forged/modified hardware to new software. At the company’s request, F-Secure Consulting performed a thorough analysis of the counterfeits to determine the security implications.

The investigators found that while the counterfeits did not have any backdoor-like functionality, they did employ various measures to fool security controls. For example, one of the units exploited what the research team believes to be a previously undiscovered software vulnerability to undermine secure boot processes that provide protection against firmware tampering.

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Original article here